Of Hops and Spices and Bourbon

Here we have a mixed bag, rather than a theme or a single brewery. I think of it as a wealth of choice.

SierraHarvestSierra Nevada Harvest Single Hop IPA

In their Harvest IPA series, this shows off Equinox hops in whole-cone dry hopping. In the glass it’s golden with a creamy golden tan head. The nose shows the complex spicy herbal hops over malt, and the flavor delivers butterscotch, malt and hops. It has a sweet finish and mild bitterness. It’s rated at 55 IBU but this is moderated by the good balance. 6.5% ABV, 55 IBU As their website says, “Equinox is part of our five-bottle Harvest series, which features single hop, fresh hop, wet hop, and wild hop beers.”

SierraCelebrationSierra Nevada Celebration Fresh Hop IPA

Moving along, “Fresh Hops are the freshest dried hops to come from the fields, typically within seven days of harvest.” Honey amber in the glass with a generous, persistent head. Earthy citrus & pine hops on a subtle nose, perhaps a hint of pepper. The flavor is malty followed immediately by bitter hops. Perhaps slightly bland flavor but then a significant hop finish. My surprise of December was finding this beer for sale at the lobby bar of Radio City Music Hall. I had not come in with much hope of finding a decent beer, and instead I found a very good one. 6.8% ABV 65 IBU

OmmSpicedSaisonOmmegang Spiced Saison

This is a collaboration between two breweries owned by Duvel, Boulevard Brewing and Brewery Ommegang. It pours pale amber with a generous, creamy tan head, persistent. The nose is farmhouse funky, rich and yeasty with a fruity spiciness. It’s nicely effervescent and once again spicy on the palette with citrus and caramel. The finish gently continues these themes. This is a fruity saison rather than a sour one. Very nice. 7.2% ABV, very low IBU.

ChimayDoreeChimay Dorée Ale Brewed with Spices

In the glass you have pale amber with a one-inch head. The lightly yeasty nose has just a ghost of spice. The spice arrives for real on the palette as a tang amid mouth-filling effervescence, but still relatively subtle. Malt is obvious as is a bready quality. There are quiet waves of spice on the finish. It’s a bit lighter than most Trappist ales. This is the spiced version of their “Gold” ale, originally reserved for the monks and guests of the abbey. This is a good beer, but I can’t say I like it more than, say, their Dubbel, and in fact I prefer the fruitiness of the Dubbel. Perhaps it was just too subtle for me or I was just in the mood for a heavier, perhaps hoppier brew. 4.8% ABV.

FoundersBackwoods2Founders Backwoods Bastard

Pours walnut brown with almost no head. Bourbon leads the nose followed by molasses and malt. Very rich and palette coating with more malt, less bourbon than the nose, and a woody tang. Sweetness comes in and then hops arrive abruptly on the finish after hiding to that point. I find myself savoring each sip, almost chewing it. Solid 10.2 ABV, 50 IBU

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2 thoughts on “Of Hops and Spices and Bourbon

  1. Peter Falce

    Your description of the Founders Backwoods Bastard was so good I could almost taste it – although I never have. I’ll have to rectify that ASAP.

  2. Ed Karasek

    Have you ever had Kentucky Ale? It is bourbon barrelled and the taste is pure bourbon! Does go down smooth though.

    Sierra Nevada also has a 7 Idaho Hop ale and a wild hop ale featuring a native hops. Both are good if you haven’t tried them.

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